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The U.S. ambassador in Venezuela, where anti-American leaders regularly accuse the United States of planing to overthrow President Hugo Chavez, had to admit this week that a Navy reconnaissance plane accidentally flew into Venezuelan airspace.

Ambassador Patrick Duddy told the Venezuela government that the S-3 plane was flying an anti-drug mission over the Caribbean Sea last week and crossed into Venezuela territory because of a navigational error. That explanation failed to satisfy Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, who called the incident a provocation.

“We’ve received responses from the U.S. ambassador that do not please us,” he told reporters in the capital, Caracas.

Mr. Chavez, in a televised speech, accused the United States of sinister intentions.

“They are spying, even testing our capacity to react,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail